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Sat, Aug

Colombia which won silver, left, T&T which won gold with Keron Bramble, Njisane Phillip and Nicholas Paul, and team Brazil which won bronze, pose for photos during the medal ceremony for the men's cycling track team sprint at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru on Thursday. (AP)

2019 Pan Amer­i­can Games
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Na­tion­al cy­clists Nicholas Paul, Njisane Phillip and Keron Bram­ble, work­ing back from that or­der, had all at the Velo­drome in Li­ma, Pe­ru hold­ing their breaths for 43.972 sec­onds on Thurs­day night.

It took that length of time for the lo­cal cy­clists to race across the line to win T&T's first gold medal at the Pan Amer­i­can Games in the Men's Team Sprint event.

"It's a plea­sure for the team and the coun­try. We train every day, day-in day-out to just rep the red, white and black so we're just hap­py to come out with the vic­to­ry and to raise the flag high," said Paul af­ter he and his team­mates col­lect­ed their gold medals then sang the na­tion­al an­them as the na­tion­al flag was hoist­ed above the flags of sil­ver medal­list Co­lum­bia and Brazil, who bagged bronze.

"It's feel­ing good. We set this goal from since last year," said Phillip, who like his fel­low rid­ers were all smiles. "Just be­ing able to come out and ex­e­cute to­day (Thurs­day) was great. Be­ing able to hit 43 is a big ac­com­plish­ment for us as a team and sure­ly build from here.

"We have Pan Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onships in the next three weeks which is an Olympic qual­i­fi­er, we get points in that el­e­ment and we're try­ing to go out and win again.

"Right now we are ranked 11th in the world in Olympic qual­i­fy­ing so this year, we have to step up our game and be able to pro­duce some times just to make sure we qual­i­fy for Tokyo 2020 in the team sprint."

Bram­ble was the qui­etest of the bunch but his per­for­mance, rac­ing in lap one, spoke loud­ly for him as he got off T&T well in the fi­nale clock­ing 17.938 in the first 250 me­tres. Phillip com­plet­ed the sec­ond lap with a 12.655-clock­ing and it was Paul bring­ing home the win with a 13.379-tim­ing in lap three.

"Our per­for­mance has been go­ing up­hill since Mr Erin Hartwell came and bring the team to­geth­er so it's been a work in progress and we are just hap­py to see our progress and hard work is pay­ing off. We are just hap­py and just go­ing for­ward from here on," said Paul, recog­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of na­tion­al cy­cling tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Hartwell, the ef­fort he has put in, to see the lo­cal team win T&T's 12th gold medal at the Pan Amer­i­can Games.

Hartwell gushed about his rid­ers af­ter their suc­cess, shar­ing that they are go­ing to cel­e­brate the win but knows that there is much to be done to get suc­cess at the next lev­el.

He said, "That's a phe­nom­e­nal re­sult for us, that's a na­tion­al sea-lev­el record that's a track record here. We have been tar­get­ing the 43s for the past year. We, at sea lev­el con­di­tions, were slow, air den­si­ty was high with the un­der rel­a­tive­ly cold and so we had high ex­pec­ta­tions com­ing in hon­est­ly as Pan Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons any­thing less than gold would be con­sid­ered a loss.

"So every­one knew the pres­sure they were un­der but we still have to step up and re­al­i­ty is com­ing home with less than gold just isn't ac­cept­able so if it's one thing we do is come through, know­ing the pres­sure and I'm su­per proud of the guys and what they were able to ac­com­plish.

"We did have to reshuf­fle the line up from what we ran at the World Cham­pi­onships and the World Cups and there is al­ways some risk with that I put Keron Bram­ble un­der some pres­sure in that P1 spot, which is a pres­sure per­haps, to say the least. The guy came through with fly­ing colours. I could not be more proud.

"Njisane Phillip did a 12.6 ride, that would have been third fastest at the World Cham­pi­onships so he is show­ing that he can move be­tween po­si­tions and then Nicholas Paul slot­ting back to P3 with 13.3, I mean that was just a huge re­sult from him. And again cul­mi­nat­ing a great time and a great re­sult of Pan Am gold, I'm hap­py with that."

T&T set the tone ear­li­er in the first ses­sion, steal­ing the spot­light by qual­i­fy­ing for the gold medal race with the fastest time, 44.260, of the six teams that en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion. Pe­ru was elim­i­nat­ed in the first round and Venezuela did not start.

The Colom­bians, how­ev­er, were sec­ond-best team ad­vanc­ing with a time of 45.046 to set up a ride off with the T&T men for the top spot on the podi­um.

"This morn­ing (Thurs­day) just be­ing able to qual­i­fy and see­ing that we qual­i­fied with 44 while the oth­er guys did 45, we were def­i­nite­ly on tar­get," said Phillip.

In the fi­nal, de­spite hav­ing to wait to take the track as the bronze medal race be­tween Brazil and Mex­i­co had to be restart­ed three times. In the end, though, it was the Brazil­ians tak­ing the bronze af­ter the Mex­i­cans were dis­qual­i­fied af­ter false-start­ing twice.

The de­lay though didn't phase the T&T cy­clists as they set aside their warm­ing blan­kets, mount­ed their bikes and sped off to glo­ry.

"Com­ing in­to the fi­nal, we were con­fi­dent that we were go­ing to put up a good time and we were try­ing to go 43 rather than just go for the gold. We were try­ing to go 43 and we made it."

Hartwell con­firmed that these young men have the right at­ti­tude and fan­tas­tic work eth­ic say­ing: "We run a very tight ship. This is an ul­tra-pro­fes­sion­al en­vi­ron­ment and every­body un­der­stands that this is busi­ness. We have jobs to do. Every­one shows up each day on time, gets the work done.

"We plan well in ad­vance to cov­er all con­tin­gen­cies or as many as we can, some­thing can al­ways pop up ob­vi­ous­ly but it been a strong two years and last year every­one was un­der pres­sure just from hav­ing to grind, grind, grind and qual­i­fy for Worlds, World Cups, all that.

"I was ques­tion­ing how much of a toll it took on every­one and could we get that back. For­tu­nate­ly, we had some time off af­ter Worlds last year. Just got in­to a good train­ing block, a good 12-plus weeks, went to the US, we weren't un­der as much pres­sure as we were last year to score UCI (In­ter­na­tion­al Cy­cling Union) points. We still were able to grab some points, we trained through it which al­lowed us to bet­ter pre­pare for this com­pe­ti­tion be­cause this 2020 sea­son starts now so Pan Am Games was a big tar­get for us. We got a bit more work to do and al­so fo­cus on that now the Pan Am Champs.

"We got 43.9, that's the time we need to be meta com­pet­i­tive at World Cups and start chip­ping away at those fi­nal spots for Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tions so I'm quite en­cour­aged, there's a lot of work to be done but we will take the win tonight (Thurs­day) but to­mor­row (Fri­day), we get up and do it again.

"It was a long sea­son which took its toll, again we reshuf­fled a cou­ple of the things. Kwe­si Browne, we saved his legs for the Keirin com­ing up but he is our fourth guy right now. He is in that mix too. I did con­sid­er him for this evening but I thought let's just keep the squad from the qual­i­fiers in­to the evening, keep it nice and tight and see what hap­pens.

"I'm en­cour­aged," said Hartwell.


2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru

Dates: Fri, Jul 26, 2019 – Sun, Aug 11, 2019
Host city: Lima, Peru
Athletes: 6,690


2019 TT Pan Am team

AQUATICS: Dylan Carter, Kael Yorke, Graham Chatoor, Jade Chatoor, Gabriela Donahue, Giselle Gursoy; Tracy De Montrichard-Carter, Chase Bloch, Joseph Mc Leod (officials).

ARCHERY: Daniel Catariz; Colvin Chin (official).

ATHLETICS: Michelle-Lee Ahye, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Semoy Hackett, Alena Brooks, Kamaria Durant, Sparkle McKnight, Cleopatra Borel, Portious Warren, Tyra Gittens,Keston Bledman, Kyle Greaux, Jereem Richards, Dwight St Hillaire, Machel Cedenio, Reubin Walters, Akanni Hislop, Jerod Elcock, Asa Guevara, Andwuelle Wright, Wimani Stewart, Keshorn Walcott, Shakeil Waithe, Deon Lendore, Mauricia Prieto, Ayla Stansclaus, Tonya Nero; George Comissiong, Ian Carter, Nic Connor Alexander, Charles Joseph, Arlon Morrisson, Mastrapa Lopez, Wendell Williams (officials).

BADMINTON: Nekeisha Blake; Melvin Thomas (official).

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Malika Davidson, Rheeza Grant, Daynte Stewart, Marlon Phillip; Nancy Joseph, Stephen Enile (officials).

BOXING: Nigel Paul, Aaron Prince, Tyron Thomas, Micheal Alexander; Reynold Cox, Rawlson Dopwell (officials).

CANOE SPRINT: Matthew Robinson, Nicholas Robinson; Merryl See Tai (official).

CYCLING: Nicholas Paul, Njisane Phillip, Kwesi Browne, Keron Bramble, Quincy Alexander, Jabari Whiteman, Kemp Orosco, Tyler Cole, Jovian Gomez, Akil Campbell, Teniel Campbell, Alexi Costa; David Francis, Erin Hartwell, Gene Samuel, Elisha Greene, Gabriel Thomas (officials).

GOLF: Isabella Lawrence; Wayne Baptiste (official).

GYMNASTICS: Joseph Fox; Charlie St Leger (official).

HOCKEY: Karlos Stephen, Akim Toussiant, Jordan Reynos, Kristien Emmanuel, Teague Marcano, Sheldon De Lisle, Marcus James, Mickell Pierre, Tarik Marcano, Daniel Byer, Micheael O’Connor, Shaquille Daniel, Lyndell Byer, Kwandwane Browne, Caleb Guiseppi, Dylan Francis, Joel Daniel, Malcolm Baptiste; Glenn Francis, Kirth Davis, Huw Stevens, Nicholas Baldeosingh (officials).

JUDO: Gabriella Wood; Mark Littrean (official).

ROWING: Felice Aisha Chow; Monica Hilcu (official).

RUGBY: Apphia Glasgow, Leah Kintiba, Nicolette Pantor, Blossom Stewart, Fayola Jack, Marika Mendez, Carlina Phillip, Maria Thomas, Kwanieze John, Aqiyla O’Brien, Kathleen Stephen, Kanisha Vincent; Jenilee Limada, Carlton Felix, Kelson Figaro (officials).

SAILING: Andrew Ivan David Lewis, Kelley-Ann Mary Arrindell; Official: Kairon Serrette (official).

SHOOTING: Anthony D Maraj, Marsha Bullen-Jones, Robert Auerbach, Roger Daniel; Ian Cockburn (official).

TABLE TENNIS: Rheann Chung; Anthony Corbin (official).

TAEKWONDO: Megan Lawrence; Cheryl Ann Sankar (official).

Team TTO in PAN AM 2019